What is TerraCycle and How to Use It

If you look on the back of some plastic products, you may have noticed an infinity style logo for a company called TerraCycle where you would normally see a regular old recycling icon. So what is TerraCycle and how can you utilize it?

TerraCycle is a privately owned, U.S. based recycling company that works to collect non-recyclable post-consumer plastic and other waste. They also manage Loop, a shopping service that lists products with reusable packaging. 

How do they do it?

First, you have to order a zero waste box from them. This is where you have to make a decision on whether or not you are super committed to TerraCycle, as the smallest boxes start at $86. They also have their boxes categorized, and give you a list of things that you can put in the box. If you want to recycle bathroom and kitchen products, well you have to purchase two separate boxes. If you grab the All-In-One box, the smallest one will run you about $200.

 If that seems a little pricey, you can look at their free recycling programs, where they have partnered with certain brands for you to be able to send them back your packaging and waste for free. Brands include:

  • Burt’s Bees
  • Colgate
  • Aether Beauty
  • Brita
  • Eos
  • Febreeze
  • Gerber
  • Gillette
  • Herbal Essences
  • And more

TerraCycle accepts all forms of nonrecyclable waste and even has its logo on the back of some products you may already buy. I know that Late July, a chip brand that I buy regularly, is partnered with TerraCycle, and recently when going through some of my sister’s hair products, I found that Garnier Fructis is also partnered with them. 

Once you fill your box up completely, you can return the box to TerraCycle with the prepaid shipping label you get whenever you buy one of their boxes. Then you can reorder your box and start over again. 

What’s the benefit?

So $86 to $200 seems like a hefty price tag for just a box. But you have to take into account the service being supplied to you. TerraCycle takes just about everything except sharps and hazardous material. On their website, they list plastics, glass, metals, organics, fibers, electronics, cigarettes, and latex paint all as things that they can recycle, and they try their pest to remake these materials back into their raw forms so that companies can reuse them again to create their packaging. TerraCycle also makes their own products from recycled waste. They’ve made bags out of Capri Sun packets, cleaning solutions and plant fertilizers out of food waste, and even office and school supplies from recycled paper. Another benefit is their points program. You earn points from recycling your waste which then you can redeem in the form of donations to charities. 

My Opinion

I think that TerraCycle is a great company doing great things when it comes to recycling. The thing that I love most of all is the fact that they are trying to take even packaging deemed “non-recyclable” out of landfills and are creatively finding ways to reuse them. They are also managing a shopping service called Loop, which I will be getting into in another article, but they partner with well-known brands to put the products that you love into reusable and more sustainable packaging options. If you aren’t ready to jump into using TerraCycle, that is completely okay, but I would recommend trying out one of their free programs, especially if you use one of the brands that they partner with extensively. It just really gives me hope when I see companies like this going against the norm and succeeding.

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